How to Lead in Times of Crisis

July 11, 2016

 

St. Paul, Baton Rouge and Dallas were recently home to tragic shootings that left many Americans confused, disturbed and discouraged. Making matters worse, these events have since produced tense, and at times violent, protests across the country.


Regardless of where your credit union is located, some of your employees were probably so traumatized by what they saw on television and in social media, they may struggle to focus on work this week.


As a business leader, how do you help them restore their inner peace and refocus on the business at hand?


Most of us are familiar with the late Fred Rogers and the advice he gave children when faced with tragic events.


"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world,” he said.


Although these words of comfort are meant for children, this quote has been reproduced in numerous memes and social media posts because it resonates with everyone, regardless of age. 


Look for the helpers.


Who are the helpers? Credit union employees.


As a leader, you can foster optimism and a sense of comfort at your credit union by reminding your employees of all the good deeds they perform at work. Help your employees start this week off on a positive note by sharing Rogers’ words and following with examples of ways they have been helpers. 


Here are a few ideas:


Review your recently closed mortgages with your loan officers and find a feel good story. Did the credit union help a young couple buy their first home? What about a single mother who was able to move out of an apartment complex and into a home that has a backyard and is located in a good school district? Did a retiring couple downsize into a condo and/or finance an RV so they can travel the country as they had always planned?


There are also uplifting stories to be found among members who refinanced debt into consolidation loans. Your loan officers, member service reps and business development officers know which members were able to save hundreds of dollars each month and how the loan lifted financial burdens.


Auto loans are another source of optimism. Did a teen finance his or her first car to provide transportation to a summer job and college this fall? Perhaps a hard working member who had been struggling with an old, undependable car now has reliable transportation for work and driving kids to school because the credit union found a way to qualify him or her for a loan. Again, your member-facing employees know these stories – recognize them for a job well done and remind your entire staff they all play a role in the cooperative’s ability to help members.


Does your credit union support community organizations? Don’t just deliver a check to the food bank or animal shelter and send out a press release, but also communicate to your employees the difference your credit union has made in the community. How many meals did your donation provide to struggling families? How many animals were spared as a result of the credit union? Sharing specific, quantifiable ways your donation helped others will make employees feel better about the credit union and the contributions they helped make to their communities as a part of your team.


Credit union leaders frequently discuss the need to tell their stories to illustrate the credit union difference. In tragic times like these, it’s important to also share that story with credit union employees, so they can recognize their role as helpers and continue to spread goodness in the world.

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